Ensoniq ASR-10 or ASR-X?

So should you upgrade? Should you get the keyboard, or the "new thang"? It's an interesting comparison. First the conclusions, and then the details.

ASR-10 Pros ASR-10 ASR-X
User Interface You can edit everything from the front panel Little editing is available from the front panel - computer is needed for full editing
Sequencer Timing is more solid, editing easier to get to; song structure more complete and flexible Better resolution, more quantinzation features, timing has been an issue
Play-While-Load Although a little sluggish to play while loading a sound Not available; machine shuts down while loading
Keyboard version available Regular organ polyphonic aftertouch keys (10), or weighted keys (88), also includes pitch and mod wheels Only pads, but they are nice
More special looping parameters START+END, others Still retains TRANSWAVE looping
Special Looping Functions Crossfade and synthesized looping data editing features No looping functions besides manual looping and auto-zerp crossing
Envelopes Has initial level control plus second release feature Initial level is preset to 0 and no second release function
Latency Better reaction to onboard control and incoming MIDI notes Less responsive
Faster Load Times SCSI and floppy
Effects Upgradability New custom algorithms can be composed and loaded Effects fixed within ASR-X hardware
Programmability More glide modes (single trigger, multi-trigger, legato, pedal) Either on or off; not monophonic only
Sampling Fidelity Better sampling converters, arguably better S/N ratio Still quite good; ASR-10 has optional Digital In and Out
Filing System DOS disk format; AIFF file format for wavedata; SMF's for sequences; has separate files for wavedata and sound parameters; facilities for reusing wavedata files Proprietary disk and file format
Resonant Filters Two new separate filter modes, separate per voice Monophonic rez filters available with effects
Keymaps Additional level (RAMKit) added for more powerful control  
SESSION/BANK files and parameters Additional set of parameters that can alter included sound files - brings ability to make slight program changes without saving redundant sets of sounds  
Track and MIDI 16 discreet tracks, 16 channel multi-timbral 8 discreet tracks, 8 channel multi-timbral
Memory and management 34mb max (66mb ASR-X Pro), 256 memory slots available 16mb maximum, 8 memory slots available
Programmability Wider range of modulation, more modulators, polyphonic glide, smooth and stepped variations  
SCSI Implementation Inexpensive ($200) SCSI Interface, compatible with many more drives; can reset, rescan bus, provides SMDI transfer, can change local SCSI ID number; storage and filing sometimes erratic Expensive SCSI ($350); cannot work with Jaz, NEC CD-ROM, and several other drives; no SCSI transfer of wavesamples, fixed SCSI ID of 3; solid storage scheme
Effects Better effects, more modulation capability, more simultaneous effects Effects still excellent; bus output system is better
Operating System Based on internal chip; chip upgrade (black ASR-X) or software upgrade (ASR-X Pro) Based on external storage
Sound support Has internal ROM sounds and waves; can read it's native format; can translate EPS/ASR volumes without effects translation; can read Akai and Roland volumes but only translates keymaps and wavedata Reads native format but not ASR-X format; translates Akai and Roland files thoroughly; no ROM sounds aboard

Contributed by: Garth Hjelte

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